The number of confirmed harassment, intimidation, and bullying cases in city schools have almost doubled in 2017-18 academic year.
Schools reported 242 confirmed cases, up from 164 in 2016-17 school year, according to data presented to the school board last week. In all, the schools reported 492 cases for investigation in the 2017-18 school year.
“This year there was an uptick in confirmed incidents compared to the previous two years,” said Theodore Best, anti-bullying coordinator for the Paterson Public Schools, last Wednesday.
The three elementary schools with the most confirmed cases were:
- School 3 with 40 confirmed cases. 53 cases were reported.
- School 8 with 21 confirmed cases. 28 cases were reported.
- School 10 with 14 cases. 25 incidents were reported.
“We have several cases where some schools are overreporting and some incidents where schools are underreporting,” said Best.
For example, the Hani Awadallah School reported 40 incidents, second highest among elementary schools. 11 were confirmed.
Best has praised these schools in his past presentations to the board. He continued to censure schools that reported zero incidents.
School 13, 4, 14, and Edward W. Kilpatrick School were among the elementary schools that reported zero incidents.
Among the zero reporting high schools were Rosa Parks High School and Garrett Morgan Academy.
“Zero cases are a little bit low,” said Best.
The three high schools with the most confirmed cases were:
- Panther Academy with 6 confirmed cases. 15 were reported.
- School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Academy at John F. Kennedy High School had 5 confirmed cases. 9 reported.
- School of Education and Training (SET) Academy had 5 confirmed. 13 reported.
The city’s 14 high schools had 31 confirmed cases. 73 incidents were reported.
“The number reported is a little bit low,” said Best referring to high school underreporting of bullying incidents.
“Why are schools failing to report?” asked school board president Oshin Castillo.
Best said school administrators have at times misunderstood what constitutes a harassment, intimidation, and bullying incident.
“There’s some principals, who felt, by having any reports of HIB that it would be a bad reflection on their school,” he said. “There was training that was done to tell them it’s okay to have reported incidents. It’s not how many cases you have, it’s how you address culture and climate in your school.”
Principals have received training over the summer to ensure their schools are properly reporting incidents, said Best.
Best said parents and students can report incident directly to the district via its website.
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